While the Virginia General Assembly utterly failed to take action on predatory lending this session, the City of Chesapeake sought more transparency and public input on the predatory businesses popping up in along the NC border.
Tuesday night was a huge victory for those fighting against predatory lending in Virginia.
The Chesapeake City Council passed a requirement for predatory loan stores to get conditional use permits before locating or re-locating in the city of Chesapeake. The public will be able to comment on whether these lenders should get the permits.
This change is huge for a community faced with a large increase in car title lenders after the general assembly relaxed rules in the 2011 session. This community victory would not have happened without the tireless civic engagement efforts of Teresa Stanley from Virginia Organizing, Debra Grant, VPLC Board member, and Michele Peters from Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, who started the inquiry and prompted a protest and community education project, which inspired this change. Virginia Organizing also met with members of the City Council to educate them on the community impact of predatory lending and the alternatives that do exist for those seeking small loans.
In addition Virginia Organizing has partnered with BankOn, an initiative of the Interfaith Alliance to provide small loans to low income residents who would otherwise get caught in the predatory lending trap. So far the program has helped over 100 South Hampton Roads families avoid the predatory lending trap and get financial planning education to plan their future. The BankOn program matches each family’s $150 savings at 100% giving low income families an option besides heading to the predatory lenders.
We hope this inspires more communities to work to do what the General Assembly cannot – stand up to these lenders in any way they can.